Still Life with Waterfall
Still life with Waterfall is part of the series Still Lifes from A Vanishing City. Elizabeth Rush, a westerner who has been reporting on South East Asia for years, made good use of strange days just before Myanmar’s awakening to venture into the lost world of downtown Yangon, but it was not the large edifices of Empire that attracted her attention. Rather, she focused on the shop houses and private residences that line the alleyways and it is here, in these forgotten and secluded spaces, that the city’s real secrets have been kept. After all, it was not – in the bad old days of the Burmese regime – just those who were overtly political who had to succumb to the silence. In a world where anyone accused or perceived of being on the wrong side of the regime could end up in prison with no legal recourse, people turned inwards by necessity. Only behind closed doors was it safe to indulge in private obsessions and the day-to-day worries of making ends meet. Still Lifes from a Vanishing City celebrates and preserves the interior lives diligently maintained despite the dictatorship’s powerfully effacing reach.
Elizabeth Rush has crossed borders with Bangladeshi cattle smugglers, built homes with Lima’s squatters, and participated in the underground performance art scene in Yangon, Myanmar and Hanoi, Vietnam. Her work has appeared in Granta, Orion, Le Monde Diplomatique, Al Jazeera, Witness, the Huffington Post, Frieze, Nowhere and others. She is the editor and a contributor to Lost & Found Hanoi (ThingsAsian Press 2013), a collection of photographs that captures the essence of present-day North Vietnam. She currently teaches at the City University of New York and is at work on a non-fiction book about how marginalized people are responding to sea rise. Rush is the recipient of numerous fellowships and grants including the Howard Foundation Fellowship awarded by Brown University, the Society for Environmental Journalism Grant, the Metcalf Institute Climate Change Adaptation Fellowship, and the Science in Society Award from the National Association of Science Writers. From 2015-2017 she served as the Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities at Bates College (2015-2017). Today she teaches creative nonfiction courses at Brown University that carry the environmental sciences and digital technologies into the humanities classroom. Recently her students interviewed fishermen in the Narragansett Bay whose lives and livelihoods are being transformed by changes in the environment. Check out what they are up to here. Rush has taught at the City University of New York and Southern New Hampshire University. She received her BA in English from Reed College and her MFA in Nonfiction from Southern New Hampshire University.